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Vyacheslav Lysenko, Meest China: 'When the government focuses less on business, it thrives better”

The quality of existence of Ukrainian business has always depended on how much the government focused on it, says Vyacheslav Lysenko, entrepreneur, public figure, co-owner of Meest China (an international postal and logistics company that delivers postal items and commercial cargo from China to Ukraine and other European countries). But it is time to change this approach, he believes: business knows what to do and what changes are needed, it is up to the state. Vyacheslav Lysenko outlined what steps are needed from the government during the discussion panel "Economic Revival: What the state should do to make it grow" as part of the joint project of and EFI Group New Country. Here are the theses of his speech. 

Vyacheslav Lysenko, entrepreneur, public figure, co-owner of Meest China
Photo: Oleh Pereverzev
Vyacheslav Lysenko, entrepreneur, public figure, co-owner of Meest China

"Whether the country was better or worse off for business depended on one thing: whether the government focused on us more or less. When they focus less, things go better. There were tax holidays, after which the business grew. As soon as the focus increases, control returns, and business starts to swing," says Vyacheslav Lysenko.

Nowadays, business is under intense pressure from the government and law enforcers, he admits.

"The last letter I received from the tax office... I am building a military plant at my own expense, which I am handing over to the state for free. But I received a letter: "We suspect you of financing terrorism and weapons of mass destruction." I laughed at first. And the lawyer tells me: well, they're right, if it [the letter] is from the Russian government," the entrepreneur says.


And he gives another example of his company, which is classified as "risky": "I have a Ukrainian production facility, and it is at risk because we take raw materials - these are one code - and produce finished products - this is another code. That is, we are definitely cheating [in the eyes of the state authorities]," Lysenko explains.

The businessman believes that such problems are based on total mutual distrust, and until this is removed, it will not be possible to radically change the situation in the country.

"I think that everyone in their industry knows what needs to be done to increase taxes to create a level playing field. But we need to be heard. We have been knocking for many years, but we are told: wait, wait, wait," the businessman says, adding that business is now ready to sit down with the government, but this process must be bilateral.

"How can we make people trust us? Maybe things should get even worse in the country for us to unite and hold hands, just like in '22, when we were at the end of our rope? We could have lost the state, and everyone has united in a very powerful way," says Vyacheslav Lysenko.

Vyacheslav Lysenko (in the centre)
Photo: Oleh Pereverzev
Vyacheslav Lysenko (in the centre)

He notes that transparency and a level playing field are needed not only by Ukrainian entrepreneurs, but also by foreign investors, who are now showing great interest in Ukraine.

"I have just returned from a trip to London and Washington. I have met with foreign investors. And they want to invest in Ukraine after the war is over. They say it's problematic in China now. The local market has already been eaten up. But in Ukraine, we clearly understand that every dollar invested now will triple in 10 years. Where can we find a place where we can earn 30% a year? But there is nowhere to invest. So give us a guarantee, give us investment security and give us transparent working conditions," the businessman said.


He also says that since the war began, business has shown growth trends: his company, for example, has started supplying goods to Africa, Japan, Mexico, etc. "But it is very difficult to do this without money."

"As a hopeless optimist, I have a dream that one day the government will come and ask how we can work together and help each other. So far, this is happening on a spotty, impulsive basis, and does not work on a systemic level. So far, unfortunately, business has been living by the following concept: don't help, but don't hinder," says Vyacheslav Lysenko, co-owner of Meest China.

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